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Chinese export spoon

Date: c 1840
Dimensions:
210 x 45 x 30 mm
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Silver spoon
Object No: 00040678

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    Description
    This spoon was made in China for a western buyer during the 19th century. Chinese silverware was a popular export and in comparison to European wares they were relatively cheap and high quality. This spoon bears the hallmark of KHC, a prolific Chinese silversmith who manufactured large quantities of silverware for western consumption.
    SignificanceThis spoon represents the extensive exportation of silver from China by American, Australian and European merchants. It is an example of the goods manufactured by KHC, the most prolific of the Chinese silversmiths.
    HistoryWestern merchants from America, Australian and Europe were active in trade with China during the 19th and 20th century. On their ships they brought back items including metal domestic wares, paintings, furniture, carvings and tea. The Chinese exportation of silverware objects has been less acknowledged in comparison to other materials, as the manufacturers commonly used pseudo-marks on their wares, making it difficult for them to be distinguished between products made in Europe or America.

    The important Chinese port of Canton was actively involved in commerce from the 13th century, being the first Chinese port to accept foreign trade. In 1685 the British East India Company established a 'factory', district of residences and businesses in the port. By the 18th century a number of other nations including France, the Netherlands and America had also built similar precincts. During the 1820s tension between the westerners and the Chinese government and merchants was growing. This led to a series of conflicts known as the Opium Wars and the establishment of a number of treaties, including the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, the Treaty of Bruges in 1843 and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsia in 1844. The treaties allowed foreigners to establish trading factories and European settlements inside Chinese cities such as Canton. However tensions between westerners and the Chinese remained a constant issue in trade negotiations.
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